Mayim Bialik, when she’s not trading clever dialogue with her co-stars on The Big Bang Theory, maintains a parenting blog on Kveller. Bialik, the neuroscientist by training and author of a book on attachment parenting, often weighs in on family topics in a controversial way. Her latest blog post takes aim at a recent viral sensation: that Similac ad on “the mommy wars.”
In the ad, “teams” of parents converge and trade barbs over parenting choices. The high-powered business moms accuse stay-at-home moms of spending their days getting mani-pedis. Moms with bottles fling their formula like swords while breastfeeding moms insist breast is best. A confrontation is about to take place, just as a stroller starts rolling unattended down a hill, and all parents run to rescue the baby inside. The ad ends with the Similac logo and an appeal to the “sisterhood” of moms.
AdWeek called it an “honest” ad about parenting: “No matter how closely you choose your friends, someone—even if it’s just another parent at the playground—is going to judge you harshly for your choices.”
You can have a look at the ad below.
Bialik reveals she was present when the ad was filmed, although by accident. It was produced in a park she often frequents with her children, and the day of filming she was annoyed because it was largely blocked off. “Little did I know how much more annoyed I would be when the ad came out!”
Bialik states she does not quibble with those mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding. As an advocate of breastfeeding, Bialik says “I also believe that artificial baby milk (how many lactation instructors refer to it) is sometimes necessary. I am grateful it exists. I was trained to know when and how to use formula.”
She claims the ad perpetuates stereotypes against breastfeeding moms. It also positions breastfeeding as a parenting choice when it is the medically recommended method of feeding. Finally, the ad is just that — an ad — that pretends to end the mommy wars, when in reality it is designed to sell formula.
“[The choice to breastfeed is] not the same as cloth versus disposable diaper choices or deciding which baby shampoo to use. This commercial undermines medical and scientific fact under the guise of ‘It’s all the same, don’t judge. And if you do, you are the bad mom.'”
“Do we need formula available in hospitals and for doctors to use? Of course. But this company is not interested in ending mommy wars or making the world better. There are interested in selling their product.”
Some commentators, such as Salon‘s Mary Elizabeth Williams, agree with neither Similac nor Bialik. Williams objects to Bialik’s strong breastfeeding message, which implies women are “heartbroken” when they have difficulty breastfeeding, and Similac’s emphasis on “sisterhood,” when babies are raised in a variety of circumstances, including by adoptive parents or male parents.
“Here’s all you need to know about caring for a baby: People who don’t lactate do it too. Also, if you think having a child puts you in a ‘sisterhood’ with every other woman who’s had a child, please feel free to hold your breath for that barbecue I’m going to have with Michelle Duggar, Mama June and Jenny McCarthy.”
Bialik states in her article that she is a Certified Lactation Education Counselor “who agrees with the World Health Organization and every other global health organization about breastfeeding: it is the normal way to feed humans and it’s something women should be supported in, taught how to manage, and accommodated to achieve.”
[Mayim Bialik image via Kveller]